This article re-examines the relation between neoliberalism and democracy by illustrating that, from its inception, neoliberal ideology was characterized by an attempt to contest notions of representative democracy by arguing that the market is more democratic than the polity can ever be. This attempt, so I argue, was closely linked to the invention of a specific figure—the sovereign consumer—carried out by the somewhat overlooked Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises in the 1920s as part of an attempt to delegitimize socialism and re-invent liberalism as a positive program. Portraying Mises as the very inventor of this paradigm, I show that his idea of the sovereign consumer hinged on the idea of democracy as a method of choosing and sought to re-invent the market as the democratic forum par excellence. I also stress that Mises’s neoliberal paradigm entailed a skepticism towards representative democracy and a willingness to limit and curtail its processes and institutions through state force.


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pp. 43-64
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